I am Chairman of the Arup Group and in this role...
Connectivity / Delivering success in an uncertain world
Sam Goldwyn once said, “Never make forecasts, especially about the future.”
At this time of year though, it is traditional to ignore this sage advice to take stock of the recent past and ponder what lies ahead.
Based on recent events, the one thing we can guarantee about the coming year is that more uncertainty is an absolute certainty for 2013. Much as it was in 2012 and before, in fact.
Near-term examples of risk and uncertainty include the USA peering over the fiscal cliff; a new leadership in China setting out its stall to the world; and the ongoing Eurozone crisis. On top of that, we will doubtless have the usual round of elections, coups and natural disasters that will continue to test us all – including those of us here at Arup.
Uncertainty is something we think about a great deal at Arup. Because the only way to deal with uncertainty and risk is to ensure that you remain adaptable and resilient.
People can try to prepare for any number of risks if they are smart enough to think of them (although Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s ‘Black Swans’ suggest they are not). Yet the best strategy for long-term survival and growth remains having the resilience to adapt.
That is why those concepts feature so highly in our approach to both our business and our work.
That is why our business strategy is based on extending our geographic reach and technical expertise, adding new offices in Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as expanding our capabilities in areas such as healthcare, waste and energy.
And that is why we continue to follow in Ove Arup’s footsteps taking a holistic view of each project we tackle, working with partners and clients to deliver more than a simple engineering solution.
One result of this successful approach is that the Arup family grew again in 2012, adding staff around the globe to deal with an expanding income stream. Although headcount and income are not how we at Arup measure success.
The true measure for us is the quality of work we deliver for our clients and partners around the globe. And on those terms, I can point to any number of great projects around the globe, from the massively complex Fulton Street Transit Centre in New York to the Wu Zhi Qiao footbridge in the remote Yunnan Province in China or our part in the success of the London Olympics.
So in spite of all the uncertainties 2013 may hold, I am confident that it will be another good year for Arup – not just because we have a good strategy, but mainly because Arup has the people who can deliver it.